Thursday, February 17, 2011


Bahşiş (Turkish / Persian) cubierto (Argentinal) bakshish(Albania) napojnica, manča (Croatia) Pourboire (France) Trinkgeld (Germany) þjórfé (Iceland) la mancia (Italy) bacşiş (Romania) propina (Spain)

The story going around is that the word “TIPS” is an acronym meaning To Insure Prompt Service” but the truth is “tips” more likely originated from 16th century criminal slang meaning to “to give; to hand or to pass”.

Tipping seems to be more of a western custom. China, Japan and many other Asian countries feel uncomfortable with tipping. In some countries people may even take offense if you offer a tip. In South Korea it is more likely that restaurant will “tip“ you with a small snack or drink to show appreciation for your loyal patronage.

I see tipping as a way to improve customer service. People work harder if their extra efforts are likely to be rewarded. Unfortunately many places now automatically add a service charge. Often that service charge rewards bad service and negates the entire concept. In addition, it is likely these service charges are used to justify lower wages for the already underpaid employees. In many countries you are not required to pay these service charges but most people never bother to protest and consider it part of the bill.

Since I came to the Philippines I have developed a new tipping philosophy. While the Philippines has a minimum wage law, few businesses actually pay it. Most people here are “temporary” employees and are paid almost slave wages. Rather than reward people sitting on the sidewalk; I tip people who work. I tip everyone who works. I tip waitresses and waiters and all the usual people but I also tip gas station attendants and other hard working people. I even tip the people in the post office. If they do an especially good job; I tip even more.

TRUE STORY: There is a quiet young Filipino. He is one of the “invisible” people; someone you see every day yet never really “see”. He tends the motorcycles outside a local fast food restaurant. Once in awhile his beautiful young wife brings him a snack and spends a few minutes brightening his day. He speaks almost no English and spends most of his day quietly doing his job. One of the American customers discovered, quite by accident, that the young man had a handicapped son. As it was Christmas the American tipped him P500 to get a present for his son. The young man was at a loss for words; the grown man had no way to express his feelings and collapsed on the curb in tears.

Look around you. Instead of complaining about things you can not change; why not change the things you can. Share your gifts with those that have less.

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